Dior SS17 “We should all be feminists” T-shirt

T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion at Fashion & Textile Museum

The latest exhibition at the Fashion and Textile museum shines a spotlight on the historical and cultural importance of the humble T-shirt.

Explore the T-shirt throughout the 20th Century with the Fashion and Textile Museum’s inspirational exhibition, charting the history, culture and subversion of the most affordable and popular item of clothing, like, ever. T-SHIRT: CULT – CULTURE – SUBVERSION highlights the multi-faceted role of this humble garment.

From conception (the word ‘T-shirt’ was coined in 1920, in the debut novel of The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald) through to men’s underclothes to symbol of rock and roll rebellion, through punk and politics to luxury fashion item, T-shirts broadcast who we are and who we want to be.

The exhibition features a private collection of Vivienne Westwood T-shirts from the early days of Let it Rock, Sex, and Seditionaries, through to more recent collections – Active Resistance to Propaganda and Climate Revolution. In the ’80s, Westwood and her contemporary designer-campaigner Katherine Hamnett both saw the potential of the T-shirt for political messages.

Vivienne protesting backstage by Marta Lamovsek
Vivienne protesting backstage by Marta Lamovsek
Katharine Hamnett meets Margaret Thatcher
Katharine Hamnett meets Margaret Thatcher in 1984

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s infamous ‘We should all be feminists’ T-shirt, from her debut Dior SS17 collection, also features [see main image, top], as well as Henry Holland’s pro-recycling slogan shirts, Keith Haring’s squiggly Act Against Aids awareness designs and artist Jeremy Deller’s tabloid T-shirts emblazoned with ‘My Drug Shame’ and ‘My Booze Hell.’

In fact, over 100 examples of the humble tee, alongside photographs and archival material, bring its history to life. As curator Dennis Nothdruft explains:

“It feels quite relevant… the matter of the personal as politicised.
[The T-shirt] is a really basic way of telling the world who and what you are.”

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE a ’70s-inspired slogan tee, and have dabbled in producing my own (see last year’s ‘fromage’ T-shirt), making this exbo a must-see for me.

Seems there’s a pertinent political power to getting it off (or rather, on) your chest.

Until 6th May 2018
Fashion and Textile Museum | 83 Bermondsey Street | London SE1 3XF

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